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Manteca RB Michael Gonzalez the plane of the goal line. Instead, Manteca had to fight on defense to stop the Hornets’ bruising running back Isaiah Matthews in order to get one last shot at victory. Unfortunately, the final gasp came on an incomplete pass in Enterprise territory with just over three minutes remaining. Matthews and Enterprise then effectively ran out the clock. “It was a heavyweight title fight,” senior lineman Billy Sharmoug said of the battle between two strong running teams. “Once we threw a punch, they threw one right back, and they just ended up getting the last punch.” Manteca held the advantage with a pair of first-quarter touchdowns to lead 14-0, but the momentum shifted in the second quarter and emotions built up. A first half of haymakers led to a 21-21 score at the intermission before the two teams traded body blows and clutched at each other over the final 24 minutes. The intensity of the game coupled with the win-or-go-home stakes of a regional final led to several incidents of talking and shoving that finally erupted in a post-game handshake melee. When combatants were separated and cooler heads eventually prevailed, the Buffaloes, who finished with a 13-2 record, had an opportunity to reflect on a successful season. “No matter what, I put this season as a success,” Sharmoug said. “We set out to get a section championship and that’s what we did.” Reis had high expectations for a roster with 26 seniors, and was proud of how the group worked to improve throughout the season, which included an impressive section playoff run. After winning a Valley Oak League title, Manteca steamrolled the competition in the postseason by averaging 53 points per game and nearly doubling its opponents’ output. The fourth section crown — and third under Reis — had special meaning for the coach because he had a number of players who had watched their older brothers don Buffalo green through the years. “What was special about this year’s team was that I had a lot of legacies,” Reis said. “These kids grew up on Manteca football, so they were that class that knew that when we get our chance to be there, we want to do something special.” “And they did it.” Billy Sharmoug watched brothers Mohamed and Gus fight in the trenches at Manteca, and senior wide receiver Brandon Dabney was preceded by older brother Bradley. Dabney led the Buffaloes in receiving this year with 563 yards and added five touchdowns. Senior quarterback Joe Menzel passed for nearly 2,000 yards and 26 TDs while adding six rushing scores from under center. In 2014, a new crop of leaders will emerge as new faces take over the roster, but Reis believes that they will be up to the task of measuring up to Buffaloes past, especially with the higher bar set by this year’s NorCal runners-up. “Overall, this is definitely going to be a year that we will look back on and be so thankful for the effort that these kids put out for us,” the coach said. “Now the bar has been set higher, and it is the job of the next group to try to reach it and take it farther.” ✪ 24


December 19, 2013

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SJ Issue 78, Dec. 19, 2013  

Sac-Joaquin Issue 78, December 19, 2013